Copper has been in use at least 10,000 years, but more than 95% of all copper ever mined and smelted has been extracted since 1900. Only a small part of copper reserves is economically feasible under present-day prices and technologies.
Copper-bearing ores are extracted from underground or open pit mines, then crushed, ground into powder and processed into concentrate.
The copper is used in the following industries: electronics, telecommunications, construction, machinery and transport.
The global volume of the copper industry annually reaches about 19 million tons of metal. Mining is concentrated in South America. China is the engine of growth in the production of blister and refined copper.
As populations and industries grow, so does the demand for copper. The main consumers of copper are China, Russia, EU, USA and Japan. The main determinant of the market is demand from China. Infrastructure of China still lags far behind that of developed countries, thus, to fill this gap, consumption should increase substantially in the years to come. China, Russia and Eastern Europe will dictate the demand for copper in the coming years.
Armenian mining companies produced 118 thousand tons of copper concentrate in 2010. The growth rate in comparison to the previous year amounted to 133.7%. 4 major producers exported 116 thousand tons of copper concentrate in 2010.